Woven: Understanding the Bible as One Seamless Story

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Woven: Understanding the Bible as One Seamless Story


Angie Smith


B&H Publishing

Publication Date:

March 16, 2021




288 pages


Have you ever struggled with seeing how the Bible’s many books connect together, to understand it as a whole? Angie Smith has had that problem many times. Here she breaks the Bible down into its major stories, retelling them in interesting ways to help readers see the big themes. Along the way, Smith tells stories from her own life that show what happens when we discover the Bible’s lessons, and realize what a strange and wonderful story it is.

Stylistically, this is a bit like Tricia Lott Williford’s This Book is for You: it’s about making the Bible more accessible. It has a cute semi-irreverent humorous style. More than anything else, its aim seems to be getting readers past “stained glass” ideas of what the Bible is supposed to be. The humor is less witty than Williford, but Smith finds her particular voice and uses it well. It particularly works when she’s commenting on how the characters in the Bible behave, like those moments in VeggieTales when cartoon characters discuss the story they’re reenacting (“Whaaaat? They can’t walk into the red sea, they’ll drown!”). However, you can have too much of a good thing, and Smith has a way of rambling, which makes it hard to see where she’s going. In those moments, Woven feels less like a book and more like a series of snarky Facebook posts by a church mom about her daily Bible readings. When it’s done right though, Smith’s humor successfully helps readers give up old illusions and read the Bible more carefully.

Unfortunately, Smith’s rambling writing style also undercuts her central goal – describing the Bible’s big picture. At the end of chapter 1 is a diagram listing key parts of the story (“Creation,” “Man and Woman,” etc.) with a symbol for each section. The appropriate symbol appears at the title page for each subsequent chapter, so readers following carefully will see how this basic outline corresponds to what they are reading. However, Smith often seems more interested in telling jokes or retelling Bible stories than in exploring this outline, and it’s hard to see where she’s going. Thus, it’s easy to miss when she mentions the key word or signals that she’s exploring that word’s concepts. People raised in church will pick up on the pattern because they’ve seen these kinds of diagrams before, but anyone else will be a bit lost in the funny meandering anecdotes.

In other words, much of the writing is entertaining, but also unstructured. When the book’s big promise to readers is it will show how the Bible really is a structured narrative that fits together, this presents a big problem. In the end, readers are left with a very entertaining book, but one that doesn’t live up to its premise.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

3 out of 5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians, new or established, who struggle to enjoy the Bible or to get past Sunday School images that made it feel impersonal.

Christian impact

Smith may not help readers see how the Bible fits together, but she does help them appreciate the fact that the Bible is both a holy text and a story. Being a story, it’s about flawed individuals who make mistakes, sometimes ridiculous ones, and there’s a lot of mystery and unexpected humor in it. By helping readers engage with the Bible on a more personal level, she shows them how to appreciate its nuances and twists.

Woven: Understanding the Bible as One Seamless Story

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